Foie gras ice cream

 

imageI recently had to go on a business trip to Shanghai, and that’s always a great opportunity for me to let my inner foodie loose. There are so many great restaurants both western and Chinese, and I managed to visit a few that were still on my to-do-list. There was one though I had been to before, but I just had to go back to .

Pree is the custom made ice-cream parlor where I previously tried truffle and Sichuan pepper ice-cream. I was in luck as this time around there were a few new flavors to try out. One of the more unusual ones that caught my attention was a foie gras gras and fig flavored one. Now I was pretty sure that foie and fig would make a great combination, but as a desert?

It turned out to be one of the best ice-cream I have ever had the pleasure of eating. As before the texture was divine, smooth and creamy. On first bite a big hit of alcohol warmed my whole inside. It was a sweet, raisin-like alcohol such as perhaps sherry or brandy. Foie gras mousse is often prepared with a fortified alcohol, so that does make sense. The fresh fig and the fig syrup added to the sweet profile, but where was the foe gras? Honestly I would never have guessed it was foie had I not known, even though there was an ever so slight savory undertone. Did I mind that? Not at all. It was still one of the best ice-creams of my life, and trust me I eat a lot of ice-cream in a year.

Fear Factor – 3 / Taste Test – 9

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Pumpkin ice-cream

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Pumpkin desserts might be common in America, but it’s still virtually unexplored territory for me. I did try a Haagen Dasz pumpkin pudding ice cream sandwich before in Japan, but now it was time for the real deal. I stumbled upon a cup of pumpkin ice cream, also by Haagen Dasz. There was no white chocolate or wafer in this one, just pure pumpkin ice cream and a swirl of caramel.

I’ll grant you that it was a good quality ice cream. Haagen Dasz ice cream usually is. I can’t say, however, that I tasted any pumpkin. Or at least the flavor wasn’t very strong. I’m still not sure whether that’s a good thing or not. I guess I’ll have to try it again somewhere else. The swirl of caramel did make a nice change of flavor while eating, so it wasn’t a complete disaster.

Fear Factor – 1 Taste Test – 6

Soy sauce ice-cream

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Savory sweet is not something new. Salted caramel, green tea desserts and carrot cake are just a few examples. Ice cream makers all over the world have been experimenting with unusual flavors for the past couple of years. I’ve had back truffle ice-cream and Sichuan pepper ice-cream right here in China. Some things, however, still strike me by surprise. In Kyoto one stand was selling soy sauce ice-cream. Now that sounded weird even for me.

The ice-cream was a soft serve one with ribbons of soy sauce mixed in. I assumed it would have been completely incorporated, but that wasn’t the case. At times you wouldn’t find any trace of soy sauce whatsoever, and at other times you would get a massive hit of this salty condiment. As soon as I did get a hit of soy I could only think of how weird it was. It wasn’t necessarily bad, but it wasn’t exactly good either. Just…..weird.

Fear Factor – 4 / Taste Test – 5

Pumpkin pudding ice-cream sandwich

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I know that in America pumpkin is often used in sweet dishes such as pumpkin pie, but in Holland it’s still mainly used as a vegetable. I was a bit surprised then to find a pumpkin pudding ice-cream bar in Japan produced by Haagen Dasz. I was expecting there to be a pumpkin ice-cream covered with white chocolate, but there were a few more layers inside.

The outside layers were thin, crisp wafers. Underneath was a shard of crunchy white chocolate. Then followed a thick layer of pumpkin ice-cream and the center was a gooey caramel sauce. It was an almost perfect match of crispy, soft and chewy. The flavors worked very well together too as I didn’t get any savory notes, but I could still distinguish the pumpkin. I think this would go down very well in the rest of the world, at least in America.

Fear Factor – 2 / Taste Test – 8

Salted butter biscuit ice-cream

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Haagen Dasz is known around the world, but in Japan they take things one step further. All year round you will find limited editions or seasonal items. When I visited this month there was a so-called salted butter biscuit ice-cream. I can assure you there was no hesitation this time.

It was love at first bite. The ice-cream was rich and creamy, but more pleasantly tasted exactly like a butter cookie. It is so rare to find a mass produced food item that doesn’t taste like it is laced with chemicals, but the good people of Haagen Dasz managed to pull one out of the bag. There were also some pieces of actual butter cookie mixed throughout for an extra dimension. The only reason I’m not giving this a ten is that there wasn’t really any evident saltiness.

Fear Factor: 0 / Taste Test: 9

Gold leaf matcha ice-cream

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A new matcha green tea dessert shop opened up the other week at a shopping mall in town and I made a visit to do some research for my blog, or actually I just wanted to eat ice-cream. I case you were unaware, I like ice-cream. Green tea, now that’s still a little unusual to me, but I’ve grown to like it. Actually the matcha ice-cream is not the reason I’m posting this. It’s the big leaf of edible gold that they put on top. I mean, who eats gold.

Eating gold is not something you see every day, but it does happen. Mostly in fine dining desserts, and sometimes in a drink. I’ve had some small pieces of gold before on a truffle ice-cream, but this was a much bigger piece. As I went in for a bit, and my lips touched the leaf of gold, I could actually feel the texture of it, which I didn’t feel before. There is not flavor to it though, it’s purely for decorative reasons. Or decadent reasons if you prefer. The ice-cream itself by the way was perfectly balanced between bitter and sweet. Definitely one of the better green tea desserts I’ve tried.

Fear Factor 0 – Taste Test – 7

Red bean cheesecake

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I feel the same way about red bean desserts as I do about green tea ones. I don’t always like the savory aspect of it, but when it’s done in moderation it can be quite good. Both of these Asian ingredients have really grown on me. When it comes to red beans, I simply don’t think the texture is pleasant.

I visited Xixi Bistro in Shanghai recently to try out their food during restaurant week. We were present with several options for starters and mains, but had no choice over dessert. Therefore I ended up with a slab of red bean cheesecake, along with some ice-cream. In this case the texture was not an issue at all, as the beans had been fully incorporated with the cheese. From the look and texture of it, it could have easily been a strawberry flavored cheesecake. Flavor wise I couldn’t exactly tell it was red bean either. There simply was a sweetness that you don’t find in a basic cheesecake that hasn’t got any additives.

Fear Factor – 2 / Taste Test – 8

Vinegar granita

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I don’t often write about food that I cooked myself. I don’t think anybody is waiting for another boring vegetable curry recipe or an egg white omelet. I will leave that to my fellow bloggers who are much more capable at that than I am. Every once and a while though I make something that’s a little more unusual, and would fit well on my blog.

For a special occasion recently I went all out and whipped up a multi-course dinner. All the dishes of that night were inspired by the food and ingredients of my home. Last week I already wrote that in Holland we often eat raw herring with onions, and I decided to make a play on that.

I made a sort of pate of herring, and topped it with crispy rye bread crumbs. To highlight the onion part of the dish, I took some brine of a pickled onion jar I had, and made a granita out of that. The vinegar made it really sharp, but the tang was dulled by the iciness, and it worked really well with the other ingredients.

Fear Factor – 3 / Taste Test: 7

Rose & pistachio Magnum

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A little while back I wrote about a Magnum I tried in Florence with salt, pretzel and chili. Just recently I went back to Florence and revisited the same Magnum shop. I didn’t want to repeat my mistake of adding too much chili, and so I went for something sweeter.

I asked the waiter to coat my Magnum in white chocolate and then sprinkle it with pistachios, rose petals and meringues. Although in Holland we don’t use rose to eat, in many Middle Eastern countries rose and pistachio is a tried and tested combination.

The Magnum ice-cream was as wonderful as ever, and the chocolate beautifully crisp, but I couldn’t really taste the pistachios or the rose. Then what’s the point of creating your own Magnum? Luckily the small dots of meringue did add a nice crunchy texture.

Fear Factor – 0 / Taste Test – 7

Peaches & wine ice-cream

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At Fatamorgana, a chain of modernist gelato shops in Rome, one of the flavors on offer was a peach and wine combination. It sounded to me like these two would go together very well indeed, and so I didn’t hesitate to point out the beautifully salmon colored concoction to the vendor.

The gelato was so soft and smooth, it had an almost perfect texture. I could tell they had used fresh peaches to make this ice-cream. It was almost as if you were eating straight up peach puree. Harder to detect was the wine. In fact I couldn’t pick it out at all. Perhaps it had simply blended into the peach.

Fear Factor – 0 / Taste Test – 7